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  • Libertarianism: A Primer

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 33 mins)
    • By David Boaz
    • Narrated By Jeff Riggenbach
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    David Boaz presents the essential guidebook to the libertarian perspective, detailing its roots, central tenets, solutions to contemporary policy dilemmas, and future in American politics. He confronts head-on the tough questions frequently posed to libertarians: What about inequality? Who protects the environment? What ties people together if they are essentially self-interested?

    Dennis says: "Clear, in-depth analysis"
    "Not a balanced account"
    This book wasn???t for you, but who do you think might enjoy it more?

    Someone already convinced of a libertarian view.

    What could David Boaz have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?

    More in depth knowledge of competing views. More knowledge of US history. Libertarianism was not the founding idea of the US, as Boaz says. What we had then and continue to have today is an essential and healthy tension between libertarianism (Jefferson, republicanism) and Hamiltonian Federalism. How much and what kind of government has always been a pertinent question.

    What aspect of Jeff Riggenbach???s performance would you have changed?

    None - very good

    3 of 5 people found this review helpful
  • The Judgment of Paris: The Revolutionary Decade that Gave the World Impressionism

    • UNABRIDGED (14 hrs and 46 mins)
    • By Ross King
    • Narrated By Tristan Layton
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    While the Civil War raged in America, another very different revolution was beginning to take shape across the Atlantic, in the studios of Paris. The artists who would make Impressionism the most popular art form in history were showing their first paintings amid scorn and derision from the French artistic establishment. Indeed, no artistic movement has ever been, at its inception, quite so controversial.

    Stephen says: "A marvelous book"
    "All over the place"

    This is a history of the Paris Salon in mid nineteenth century where every year paint artists compete for space at the exhibit in the Champs Elysee palace. It's mainly about Manet and Meissonier with asides about other impressionists. The core is a discussion of the transition from realism ( Meissonier) to impressionism (Manet and others) and the politics of the Salon. Not very interesting, yet somewhat informative. The text is rambling but has a good narrator.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • The Third Reich at War

    • UNABRIDGED (35 hrs and 9 mins)
    • By Richard J. Evans
    • Narrated By Sean Pratt
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    Evans interweaves a broad narrative of the war’s progress with viscerally affecting personal testimony from a wide range of people - from generals to front-line soldiers, from Hitler Youth activists to middle-class housewives. The Third Reich at War lays bare the dynamics of a nation more deeply immersed in war than any society before or since. Fresh insights into the conflict’s great events are here, from the invasion of Poland to the Battle of Stalingrad to Hitler’s suicide in the bunker.

    Karen says: "Masterful"
    "Great history well spoken but..."

    I cannot understand why a history of this quality would have such affectations both from the writer and the narrator. The author in his preface says he's going to Anglicize certain German words for ease of understanding. Mein Kampf becomes "my struggle" and Der Fuehrer becomes "the leader". These two German terms are so well known that it's hard to listen to their being spoken this way. "The leader" is often confusing. Which leader are we talking about now?

    The narrator has done a great job with German and other language terms. But there are glaring mistakes. For example the Reichstag is not pronounced as tag as in license tag but as tahg with a soft g, almost a ch sound. Other such gaffs should have been caught in the editing.

    All this makes for a feeling of amateurishness, marring an otherwise superb history.

    All three volumes are topical and sequential but not a narrative history with in depth treatments of many important topics like the origins of racial policy and the economics of the Reich. How did Hitler pay for rearmament? It's easy engrossing listening that explains a great deal about how a well educated population could be psychically captured by a lunatic. It's a lesson that will endure.

    12 of 15 people found this review helpful
  • The God Delusion

    • UNABRIDGED (13 hrs and 52 mins)
    • By Richard Dawkins
    • Narrated By Richard Dawkins, Lalla Ward
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    Discover magazine recently called Richard Dawkins "Darwin's Rottweiler" for his fierce and effective defense of evolution. Prospect magazine voted him among the top three public intellectuals in the world (along with Umberto Eco and Noam Chomsky). Now Dawkins turns his considerable intellect on religion, denouncing its faulty logic and the suffering it causes.

    Rick Just says: "Dangerous Religion"
    "Big daddy in the sky"

    Kids have imaginary friends. Adults have God.

    Dawkins points out that religion may simply be a carryover from childhood's imaginary friends. Like adults, children need consolation and inspiration from imagined persons like the trinity and the saints. There is a strong emotional belief in these persons that causes rigidity of thought and has led to enormous harm to society in the form of bombed abortion clinics, and other acts of murder in the name of these imaginary friends. More heinous to Dawkins is inculcating in children a catechism of beliefs before they have critical faculties. This ensures the slavish and blind passage of belief across generations until, it is hoped, they are old enough to read this book.

    Dawkins makes it clear that religion is irrational and inhumane. It treats people as passive receptacles not as thinking humans. The privileged social position of religion also means that believers are immunized against criticism and cannot be challenged without the challengers being dismissed as "ungodly".

    The back and forth between the two narrators is very effective. Their speaking voices have the clear enunciation of Oxford English.

    Overall, the book is a devastating critique of religion. I wish I had had this book for all those college dorm debates.

    2 of 4 people found this review helpful
  • Protect and Defend

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 16 mins)
    • By Vince Flynn
    • Narrated By George Guidall
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    The action begins in the heart of Iran, where billions of dollars are being spent on the development of a nuclear program. No longer willing to wait for the international community to stop its neighboring enemy, Israel launches a creative and daring operation that leaves a radioactive tomb in the middle of Iran's second largest city. An outraged Iranian government publicly blames both Israel and the United States and demands retribution.

    Warren says: "Best book I've listened to this year"

    This book is about meetings punctuated by predictable unsuspenseful action. Just Macho drivel. Its only asset is George Guidell who reads it extremely well. Please George this is beneath you.

    Save your credits.

    0 of 4 people found this review helpful
  • The Pillars of the Earth

    • UNABRIDGED (40 hrs and 54 mins)
    • By Ken Follett
    • Narrated By John Lee
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    Why we think it’s a great listen: Got 40 hours to kill? You’ll find the time when you start listening to Lee’s take on Follett’s epic – and widely celebrated – novel of 12th-century England. The Pillars of the Earth tells the story of Philip, prior of Kingsbridge, a devout and resourceful monk driven to build the greatest Gothic cathedral the world has known...of Tom, the mason who becomes his architect - a man divided in his soul...and of the beautiful, elusive Lady Aliena, haunted by a secret shame....

    CynNC says: "Captivating"

    There are five parts to this Audible book. I got thru four and 1/2 before I just gave out. The story moves along and the characters are mildly interesting for a while, but there really is no compelling reason for these characters to live. The plot is fairly simple: let's build a cathedral. There's interesting detail about the lives of the people and lots of descriptions of breasts - a Follett fetish I think. Toward the end the author loses the various narrative threads and gives quick summations of how things turned out rather than fleshing them out. It appear he too was tired out and rushed the ending. The book had all the appeal of a soap opera.
    The plotting is very thin. Tell me, for example, how a woman carrying a newborn baby makes it on foot from England to Spain and finally Paris without much trouble.
    Save your credits.

    3 of 5 people found this review helpful
  • Conservatives Without Conscience

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 54 mins)
    • By John W. Dean
    • Narrated By Robertson Dean
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    John Dean's last New York Times best seller, Worse Than Watergate: The Secret Presidency of George W. Bush, offered the former White House insider's unique and telling perspective on George W. Bush's presidency. Once again, Dean employs his distinctive knowledge and understanding of Washington politics and process to examine the conservative movement's current inner circle of radical Republican leaders, from Capitol Hill to Pennsylvania Avenue to K Street and beyond.

    J. Stout says: "A Book Every American Should Read"
    "Bad boys"

    John Dean's very fine book on the authoritarian conservative tradition is, despite its title, an excellent primer on contemporary American politics in general. Other writers, whose books are available from Audible, have noted that, at one time or another, both Democrats and Republicans have been the bad boys of Congress. LBJ stole, among other things, the 1948 Texas Senate election from Coke Stevenson (LBJ: Master of the Senate by Robert Caro). JFK was a randy, immoral, secretive executive willing to use the Mafia to topple Fidel Castro (Robert Kennedy: His Life by Evan Thomas). Nixon used the CIA to oust Salvador Allende from his elected presidency of Chile (Nixon and Kissinger by Robert Dallek) . It goes on and on. Amoral authoritarian behavior is not just Republican. It's the core of a life of political power.

    7 of 8 people found this review helpful
  • Marker

    • UNABRIDGED (16 hrs and 8 mins)
    • By Robin Cook
    • Narrated By George Guidall
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    Twenty-eight-year-old Sean McGillin is the picture of health, until he fractures his leg while in-line skating in New York City's Central Park. Within 24 hours of his surgery, he dies.

    Martin says: "A bit too predictable"
    "Page turner,but..."

    Robin Cook can write a nice page turner, but it's hard to swallow some of the events of this book. Number one: the protagonists, two MD lovers, both forensic pathologists. She finds out she's pregnant and is quite surpised, even though she and he have been using the rhythm method, notorious for its unreliability - hard to accept that two MDs wouldn't know better. Right at the outset the author lets you know there's a serial killer in the hospital exterminating sleeping patients with IV potassium chloride. We wait while our two somewhat slow-witted (remember the rhythm method)pathologists struggle through endless toxicology tests trying to find the poison in the dead patients. When they turn up nothing, you wonder why they don't think of potassium, a compound that injected in this way would disappear from the blood after death (common knowledge), but these are the guys who still think the rhythm method is a great form of birth control. Other plot elements like managed care as a sinister force and a glaring paper trail of criminal activity are also hard to swallow. But I have to admit I turned all the pages and enjoyed the story.

    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • The Fountainhead

    • UNABRIDGED (31 hrs and 45 mins)
    • By Ayn Rand
    • Narrated By Christopher Hurt

    Arguably the century's most challenging novel of ideas, The Fountainhead is the story of a gifted young architect, his violent battle with conventional standards, and his explosive love affair with the beautiful woman who struggles to defeat him. This unabridged recording of the classic features the voice of actor Christopher Hurt.

    Lisa says: "Amazing!"
    "Hard to like"

    The Fountainhead is a study of the architect as hero. Howard Roark in the title role is a monochromatic character, who has no defects and does not change over the novel. He sticks to his guns and refuses to let others influence his work. Only he knows what is great architecture. This smugness is appealing for a while because he suffers (a little) for what he thinks is artistic. Roark, the hero, is also cast as a stud, raping the woman he secretly lusts for. Dominique Francon, the victim of this attack, enjoys the rape, an archetypal male fantasy. Dominique is more interesting because she is a study of contradictions. Does she love or hate Roark? It's hard to tell for a while until one sees she's trying to protect his genius from a callous, ignorant world.
    But who cares? One of the difficulties with this novel is that architecture must be seen to be evaluated. I never really had a sense that Roark's designs were any good. The descriptions were thin. Another shortcoming is that Roark's self-absorption is cloying. I wanted to slap him and say, "There's nothing wrong with a healthy collaboration and give and take."
    If the point of the novel is to preach the value of individualism, make Roark a more interesting character. Give him inner conflicts, self-doubts. A true hero struggles against an inner flaw. Roark's dialogue fosters the impression he's stiff-necked. His extended speech at end of his second trial is merely an apologia for his life, not disclosure. His relationship with Gail Wynand, the millionaire publisher, promised more male bonding and disclosure, but this too was undeveloped. Also, Roark was having an affair with his wife, Dominique - hard to be intimate with a man you're cuckolding.

    Read this as an introduction to Ayn Rand. It's full of polemic about her philosophy, something she more fully developed later in her life.

    7 of 18 people found this review helpful
  • Crime and Punishment (Recorded Books Edition)

    • UNABRIDGED (25 hrs and 5 mins)
    • By Fyodor Dostoevsky
    • Narrated By George Guidall
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    Fyodor Dostoevsky's Crime and Punishment is universally regarded as one of literature's finest achievements, as the great Russian novelist explores the inner workings of a troubled intellectual. Raskolnikov, a nihilistic young man in the midst of a spiritual crisis, makes the fateful decision to murder a cruel pawnbroker, justifying his actions by relying on science and reason, and creating his own morality system. Dehumanized yet sympathetic, exhausted yet hopeful, Raskolnikov represents the best and worst elements of modern intellectualism. The aftermath of his crime and Petrovich's murder investigation result in an utterly compelling, truly unforgettable cat-and-mouse game. This stunning dramatization of Dostoevsky's magnum opus brings the slums of St. Petersburg and the demons of Raskolnikov's tortured mind vividly to life.

    Greg says: "Wonderful Book"
    "George Guidall at his best"

    The best thing about this recording is George Guidall, the reader, but this is otherwise a very difficult novel for the 21st century reader. Dostoevsky is a gifted writer, but his style is very dense with descriptions and dialogue that seem interminable and do not advance the plot.

    Speaking of plot there is none to speak of. Raskolnikov, a failed impoverished student feeling sorry for himself and powerless, decides to do something powerful like murder a usurious pawnbroker whom he and the townspeople hate. The only action in the novel is the murder and the harrowing escape from the crime scene. Then it's back to dialogue about his sister's wedding plans and other townspeople and their problems.

    Then there's the philosophy. Raskolnikov murders for an idea, something he developed in one of his student papers. Murder, he says, is justified if it's committed by powerful people, like Napoleon. Why should he be denied the privilege? His anguish is whether this idea really should justify his murder. This point of philosophy is interesting but poorly developed and makes its appearance only briefly throughout the novel with no real effect.

    A possible impediment to the reader is the Russian convention of naming. The protagonist's name is Rodion Romanovich Raskolnikov. He is known affectionately as Rodya, to acquaintances as Rodion Romanovich, and to the writer as Raskolnikov.

    A big disappointment is the relationship between Raskolnikov and the police officer, Porphiry Petrovich, who initially interrogates him. The officer very quickly tells Raskolnikov he knows he committed the crime and that eventually he will confess. At this point the novel becomes interesting and I had hoped a cat and mouse game would ensue similar to the one Peter Falk did so well in his Columbo series, but this was not to be - more long dialogue and more about his sister's suitors. Ho hum.

    An epilogue ends the novel, but is simpleminded and too romantic - a good woman conquers all.

    10 of 28 people found this review helpful

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